FAB 2. Bucs Targeting Multi-Talented RB Hines
You know the Buccaneers need to draft a running back next month. And you know the names of the star-studded group of runners from this sensational running back class whom the Buccaneers are interested in.
Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, LSU’s Derrius Guice, Georgia’s Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, USC’s Ronald Jones II, San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny and Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson. There is a very good chance those seven backs will be drafted in the first three rounds, and with only Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers on the roster, the Bucs have varying degrees of interest in each of them.
But there’s another name to know. North Carolina State’s speedy Nyheim Hines, who is a fast riser up NFL Draft boards.
Unless you follow N.C. State football, Hines’ claim to fame is that he was the fastest running back at the NFL Scouting Combine, running a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash.
Hines, a junior entry, has really caught the Bucs’ eye this offseason. They’ve attended his pro day workout in Raleigh, N.C., had running backs coach Tim Spencer put him through an individual workout and he’s expected to be one of Tampa Bay’s 30 official pre-draft visits to One Buc Place in April.
At 5-foot-8, 198 pounds, Hines isn’t big enough to shoulder the load and be a feature back at the NFL level. In fact, he only carried the ball 197 times for 1,112 yards (5.6 avg.) with 12 touchdowns in Hines’ lone season as the Wolfpack’s primary ballcarrier last year.
But what he can bring is someone to replace Charles Sims as Tampa Bay’s pass-catching, change-of-pace back on third downs. Hines rushed for 243 yards and a touchdown on 48 carries (5.1 avg.) as a freshman, while catching 20 passes for 256 yards (12.8 avg.) and one touchdown. He was moved to wide receiver as a sophomore, catching 43 passes for 525 yards (12.2 avg.), and carrying the ball 13 times for 44 yards (3.4 avg.).
In addition to topping 1,000 yards rushing for the first time in his career as a junior, Hines also caught 26 passes for 152 yards (5.8 avg.) out of the backfield.
“He’s a shorter guy, but he’s stocky and strong,” Former Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher said before Hines rushed for 94 yards and caught an 8-yard pass in a 27-21 home loss to the Wolfpack. “He’s almost 195-200 pounds and he can break arm tackles. He’s hard to get down. He can run routes. He can get the ball in space.”
Hines, who competed with the Wolfpack track team, was an All-American as the leadoff runner in the 4x100m relay that won the ACC title. He used his sprinter’s speed to return two kickoffs for touchdowns and a punt return for a touchdown during his three years at N.C. State.
“Whether he returns it or runs it, he just makes plays all over the daggum field,” Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren said. “He just hates not playing well. He plays football like he runs track. He’s trying to get a personal best all the time.”
While not being the biggest back, Hines has showed the ability to run between the tackles as well as outside on zone plays. He eclipsed 100 yards in three straight wins against Syracuse, Louisville and Pittsburgh. After scoring two touchdowns against the Cardinals, Hines ripped off a career-long 83-yard touchdown run against the Panthers the next week while rushing for 135 yards on 16 carries (8.4 avg.). Hines also had a 92-yard punt return for a touchdown in the 35-17 victory at Pittsburgh.
After being stymied at Notre Dame and against Clemson, Hines rushed for 110 yards, including a 50-yard game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter of a gritty 17-14 win at Boston College. He ended the season in style with a career-high 196 yards and two scores on 22 carries (8.9 avg.), including scoring jaunts from 54 yards and 48 yards. With two catches for 13 yards, Hines topped 200 yards on offense against the cross-state rivals.
Growing up in nearby Garner, North Carolina, Hines wasn’t going to miss the rivalry game despite recovering from a concussion he sustained on a punt return the previous week against Wake Forest. Hines returned to the lineup to post a career-high 26 touches on offense against the Tar Heels.
“Growing up here, it’s just really important for me to play in this game and I just knew I wouldn’t miss this game for anything,” Hines said. “I’d basically just have to break an arm or a leg not to play.”
That’s the kind of competitiveness and toughness Bucs general manager Jason Licht loves in players.
“He just plays angry,” Doeren said. “He’s competitive. He’s spirited. He’s super-talented. He’s the most competitive guy on the field at times.”
Hines is projected to be a third- or fourth-round draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. PewterReport.com has him going to Tampa Bay in the fourth round of our latest 2018 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft, and because he’s undersized he might fall. But there is also a chance that because of his speed and his running, receiving and kick return ability, Hines could be blazing up draft board and the Bucs may have to trade down to acquire more picks to be able to snag him late on Day 2.